BBC.co.uk

Possession the key on St Paddy's Day

  • Jim Stokes - BBC Northern Ireland Sport
  • 13 Mar 07, 10:14 AM

Jim Stokesire_badge.gifBelfast – Now that my very temporary support of England (for very selfish reasons you understand) has quickly evaporated in the thermals above Twickenham, I can look forward to what should be a thrilling Six Nations finale.

While I didn’t honestly think Scotland would put the wind up Ireland, I was even less convinced that England would stop the French juggernaut rolling to a Grand Slam.

But fair play to Brian Ashton’s boys - who took advantage of a French team that looked asleep for most of the game. So much so, they should have worn their pyjamas, particularly out in the three-quarters.

Anyway, from an Ireland perspective, England’s deserved victory reignites hopes of a first outright Championship title for 22 years. Whoever organised the final Saturday for St Patrick’s Day must know something none of the rest of us do.

Unfortunately, Ireland took a bit of a battering against the Scots, with Paul O’Connell getting the thumbs down from the fitness boys and his absence will be a big loss against the buoyant Italians.

His replacement Mick O’Driscoll is no slouch, but the absence of O’Connell will negate a lot of Ireland’s line-out prowess. The Munsterman is an all-action contributor around the park, but against the Italians, out of touch possession is going to be a crucial factor in the game.

In fact it will be all about possession. On paper, Wales looked the better team with more strike runners than most. But if you haven’t got the ball, the end result against the robust Italians is all too obvious.

If there was nothing to play for this weekend, I suspect that Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan might have been tempted to rest some of his front-line players in what has been a gruelling campaign for all the protagonists.

But with England putting that giant spanner in the works, O’Sullivan has the silver service on parade again in the hope of collecting another trophy to go with the Triple Crown tray and the Century Quaich. The Quaich? Well, it’s yet another silver salver which is awarded to the winners of the game between Scotland and Ireland. The more the merrier, I say.

But Rome will be no picnic as Ireland are first up in the battle for the Championship title. Stadio Flaminio will be like the Coliseum, and all the history that surrounds that wonderful icon of the past.

Ireland’s goal is to set a target for the rest of catch. They are at present four points behind France, who will have the benefit of knowing their goal when they stroll out at Stade de France in the second match of the day.

Italy will have no baggage now that they achieved their best finish since they entered the fray in 2001.

Ireland visited Rome that year and scored five tries, with that man-for-all-seasons Rob Henderson enjoying his best day in an Ireland jersey with a hat-trick.

A great character is Rob, who is now plying his trade with Toulon. Of stocky build and hardly the well-honed athlete of today’s variety, he loved a drag or two on the old coffin nails.

His first try was a brilliant effort from the halfway line and after he had dived over in the left-hand corner it was reported that he breathlessly asked a sideline photographer for a drag on his cigarette.

He was the hero of the hour, and after the game in the physio room while giving interviews to the congregating hacks, Rob lay back like Nero on his couch with a towel hiding his particulars, and drawing satisfaction from yet another cigarette. Ah, those were the days.

They will certainly be different from Saturday, where Ireland will need to draw the sting out of the Italians up front. And they can sting too. Just ask Brian Ashton.

The current England coach was in charge of Ireland when they lost 37-22 in Bologna in 1999 – the third successive defeat to the Azzurri.

If Ireland can get parity of possession, then one would imagine if the three-quarters can rekindle the ingenuity they lost against Scotland, they will do the business.

I will not be in Rome, but I will be celebrating St Paddy’s Day in the best alternative way with a weekend in Bath. It’s a family thing, but I’ve been given the Saturday off. What's a good rugby pub in Bath then?


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:37 AM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

You forgot to mention that Italy can also win the championship on points if they beat Ireland and France and Enland both slip up ;)

  • 2.
  • At 11:54 AM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Eddy wrote:

Yes ben, but then you forgot this guy is Irish and that thought would never even cross his mind... hehe

  • 3.
  • At 11:54 AM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

What a day we have ahead of us. Dont Like the way the French game is on after the Irish, but what can you do theres no point moaning over it. Here are my predictions for the games.

Ireland V Italy:
Im going for Ireland by 15-20 points. Its going to be a tough game against an excellent Italian pack, but I beleieve Bergamasco will be suspended and Canalle is injured, leaving the Italian backs suspect to the far superior Irish backs. I dont believe the Italians have the ability to breakdown the Irish although they mite have more possesion, their kicker is not the most reliable and depending on the Irish team, even with O'connell absense, the Irish our my clear favourites.

France V Scotland.
Id love to see the Scots turn the French over but the French at home are going to be far to strong, with Patterson boot and a strong defence that mite keep the scorline respectible enough to see the Championship decided by a meer point or two. France by 15 points.

Wales V England.
Although England beat France last week I think that Wales will beat England. They will be playing for their lives and we still have to remember that Wales do have a good team. This one is going to be tight though so I think Wales will sneek it by 5 points.

Overall Fingers crossed Ireland to win the Six Nations By 1 point Score difference.

  • 4.
  • At 12:06 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Derek Fallon wrote:

Its a bit unfair that France will know exactly what they have to do on saturday after Irelands match. There would be murder over this if it happened in soccer....

  • 5.
  • At 12:06 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Pat wrote:

Nice one Ben (1.) that's some left field stats that I'll bet no one's given any notice to. Nothing like a miracle upset waiting in the wings to spice up the months before a WC!

  • 6.
  • At 12:22 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Hey Pat, we would need to beat Ireland by at least 35 points but as long as its mathematically possible I will continue to be the eternal optimist! :D
At least this year we are playing for something other than pride, which is usually the case for us come the last game of the tournament ;)

  • 7.
  • At 12:29 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Psychologically, France must have an edge over Ireland in the chase for the championship because, as Jim points out, they will know exactly how many points they need to beat Scotland by. Whether or not it pans out like this is another matter!

By the way, the best pub in Bath to watch the rugby is the Pulteney Arms on Daniel Street (get there early!)

  • 8.
  • At 12:31 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Oliver Mullan wrote:

If you are looking for a good, (proper!), rugby pub in Bath then you can't go far wrong with a few slurps at The Saracens Head. Small and crowded by the time it's full, but if you get there early a cracking atmosphere.

The Pulteney Arms is again small but a hell of a bash for the 6 nations. Was always the pub of choice for the University Rugby teams to celebrate/start the night in, so deffinatly worth a look!

Last of all Flan O'Briens has a brilliant atmosphere on 6N match days when Ireland are playing and the staff always used to be ace.

http://www.bathpubs.co.uk/

Enjoy Paddys Day!

  • 9.
  • At 12:36 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Con wrote:

My heart says Ireland, my head says France, and my pocket says England.
I believe Ireland will have to do a hammering of Italy, by 20 or so points in order to realistically be ahead of France by the end of the day. However the Scots will be no push-over.
I also think Wales can do the business at home against England.
It stands like this:
France: +42
Ireland: +38
England: +13

Anything can, and will, happen.....

  • 10.
  • At 12:44 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • sorcha munster fan wrote:

it'll be tough in rome but ireland will beat them! hopefully we can put a few tries past the italians and pray that the scots dont get totally hammered! sorry to scottish fans but i think france will be looking to take their frustrations from last week out on the scotland team. england will beat wales by only a few points tho.

  • 11.
  • At 12:48 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

It all hinges on Irelands first 20 minutes - if they complete the passes they missed against the Scots and get 12+ up it could be a good end result which has to put pressure on the French - If France know they need to increase their points by 10/15 it will impact on their approach to the game (opting for the lineouts etc)- however if Ireland get bogged down in a forwards battle then the 3 pointers may not be enough to see them past the point difference which i think the French will put on Scotland. Assuming of course Ireland and France win of course.

  • 12.
  • At 12:50 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

I hope the Ireland team are giving Italy more respecty than most others seem to be. I've been writing in here all championship that they are no mugs, a 20 point victory over Scotland the team beaten by 1 point by Ireland, both wins coming in the same fashion. If the Italians are not given respect they will cause and upset. Their pack is just too dominant.
Ireland should win but it won't be by much and wouldn't surprise me if the result was not guaranteed going into the final minute.
Scotland have fought well this championship but France away with a wounded French team is a huge ask. pierre mignoni will return and will orchestarte a sizeable win.
England need to play the same way against Wales as they did against france, Forwards to win it backs to spice it up and show we're improving. Wales will not want to lose to the old enemy and Cardiff will be a very hostile place for an English Rugby player on Saturday.
Positions in the table will remain the same. France 1st Ireland 2nd England 3rd Italy 4th Scotland 5th Wales 6th, white-washed.

  • 13.
  • At 12:56 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • David wrote:

As an Englishman I'm trying to see how England could win it. The current points difference is: Ireland +38, France +32, England +13, so England are going to have to score a lot of points against Wales to have a chance (assuming all three teams win that is). However, a points difference tally of: France +32, Ireland +31, England +20 would have looked a lot closer. Isaac Boss' try for Ireland against England might be more significant than it looked on the day, i.e. an icing on the cake score for a team with a runaway victory.

  • 14.
  • At 01:00 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

People say Ireland going first is a disadvantage; perhaps, but put it this way, if we beat Italy by 15-20 pts the pressure is on France not only to win, but also to reach a Pts Target which is easier said than done. Most likely everyone in Paris - players, fans etc will know what the target is. If France struggle, crowd may turn against them and pressure tells. Players chase a Pts Target and mistakes start happening.It's hard enough to win nowadays, let alone by a certain target - so Ireland having the win and pts in the bag is surely a better position to be in!

  • 15.
  • At 01:01 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Mutt wrote:

The nightmare scenario for everyone (except Scotland and Wales) would be as follows:

Italy beat Ireland by 33 points -
Ireland on PD of +5
Italy on PD of +7
Scotland beat France by 36 points -
France on PD +6
Wales beat England by 7 points -
England on PD of +6

And in ther final table Italy win the championship and all of scotland and wales (and the rest of the world) laugh

Never gonna happen tho.

Could it?!?!?!?

  • 16.
  • At 01:04 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Mark Simmonds wrote:

Everything hinges on the way Scotland play. The key for them is to take out their frustrations of narrowly losing to the Irish on France. France's confidence may be affected following the loss to England and the French crowd will start booing them if Scotland compete early on. I don't see the Irish beating Italy by much and the Italians confidence will be sky high. If Ireland play like last week, they could lose. England aren't really in it due to the points difference, so a good championship for us would be to get past Wales and get 4 wins from 5, which would be a boost, considering the shambles of Robinson's era and the club/country row!!

  • 17.
  • At 01:07 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Joe RYAN wrote:

The Italy match will be like a home game for the Irish. It was near on impossible to get tickets for the game in Italy itself as, I'm told, the organisation charged with ticket sales chose the profit route by selling at hiked-up prices in Ireland. My betting is that there are more Irish than Italians in the ground. It is a decision that could back-fire on the Italians as, with a bit of local support, they could push Ireland close. However, it might encourage the FIR to look to larger stadiums for next year.

  • 18.
  • At 01:07 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Damien wrote:

It could work in Ireland's favour playing first. If they can beat Italy and win by fifteen or twenty points then the French might feel the need to take a few risks early in the game to get the score board moving. Even if Scotland are losing they’ll know that keeping within ten points might be enough to help their neighbours to win the six nations.

Come on the Scots!!!

  • 19.
  • At 01:16 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Chuck wrote:

It's a bit disappointing we didn't capitalise in Edinburgh. Probably could've got another try had hickie not been stopped by a great tackle or stepped inside and got in a ruck, ball recycled etc etc. Then ROG missed two kicks I think? That's 13 points so we could've been plus 51 vs France's plus 42! Of course, If my Aunty had balls she would be my uncle but still, there you have it...

We always seem to come up short when it comes to putting points on the board when needed most. Last year was a case in point although didn't think we would win it.

What disappoints me again is the exclusion of Murphy. OK, he hasn't done enough to oust Dempsey from full back but he offers more from the bech if we need more points than Trimble does. I would, however, love to be proved wrong!

I'm more worried about the lack of a forward leader against the Italians when we need it the most - Easterby, this is your time to shine!

Roll on St Patricks Day! Roll on a day when all the Celts win!

  • 20.
  • At 01:20 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • InBodwetrust wrote:

If ireland get enough possesion they should be able to score a few tries ...but if the italians are still in the game after fifty minutes it could be difficult for ireland.
I feel france knowing what they have to do could prove to be a disadvantage as they might start trying to force things and if scotland can stay in the game for as long as possible the french crowd might start to become annoyed
predictions
ireland 30 italy08
France 28 Scotland 12
Wales 20 England 16

  • 21.
  • At 01:23 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • DAve wrote:

No

  • 22.
  • At 01:28 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Rory Cairns wrote:

This is what I love about the 6 nations. Take one carefully written "form book" and rip it up.

Who would have thought, (and absolutely no offence here to the Italians - who in my view have been a complete revelation this tournament) Italy in with a shout -well maybe whisper a least - come the final weekend.

I am not calling any of the games, because that would be a bit like feeling your presents on Christmas eve. Surely it would be better to let the excitement mount a bit further and then see what you've go on the day itself.

I would hope, however, that Scotland could do more than just keep the score down against France. After all it was only 2 years ago they went to France under Matt Williams and lost narrowly (well the width of Ally Hogg's right foot) to the French in the dying minutes. Actually come to think of it that was another charge down as well..........

Sorry, just re-read the blog title and realised that this has little to do with it. I am just so excited by the prospect of a brilliant weekend's rugby and on St Paddy's day too. Work somehow looks bareable now. You'd never guess my team is lying second from bottom in the table.

  • 23.
  • At 01:40 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Personally, my mouth is watering about this weekend.

Three sides all with strong attacking ambitions needing to get a cricket score to be assured of/in with a chance of winning the title, against sides that have set their stall by limiting those ambitions.

France - should beat Scotland in Paris BUT pack was second best against England and they always have the risk of complacency.

Ireland - should beat Italy BUT so should Scotland and Wales. Lets not forget also that Italy should have won in Dublin last year but for a couple of ref calls that went against them. Is the Irish pack up to the challenge? - the Italian front row will be.

England - who knows, a perfomance like Sunday's and they will have the beating of Wales BUT celtic side at home against England, Welsh desperate for a performance.

I will be at LIrish v Wasps on Sunday - I haven't explained Saturday to the wife yet.

P.S. Is it just me or is Eddie O'Sullivan behaving strangely?

His press comments seem to be more rants about opposition gamesmanship than about his own side. According to Iain Robertson he lost the plot at a press conference when there was a suggestion that JW wouldn't be fit for the Ireland game and this throttling business. (Justified if true but lets face it there is no obvious evidence and we've heard nothing from the Irish players).

I'm not sure whether this is an attempt at Ferguson style mind games or simply a Keegan style pressure vent.

England aside, Ireland have underachieved this 6N,is he getting stick in his domestic press? any Irishmen care to comment?

  • 24.
  • At 01:44 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Des wrote:

Hmmm its very tough to call. Im Irish, but think we will struggle against Italy - i think we will win but not by a big margin. They have a fabulous pack, are playing at home and are full of confidence.

France and Scotland - I think scotland will keep the score tight, and could win it if they get into the French early. The French sides have a tendancy to collapse if its not going all their way early.

England and Wales - the new England lads look great, but Wales are still a good outfit too. V close match, I'd give it to Wales by a few points.

Not putting any money on any of the above mind you.

  • 25.
  • At 01:49 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Paul McK wrote:

Looks like an exciting St. Patrick's day ahead...

  • 26.
  • At 02:04 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Chris R wrote:

Home advantage is everything. The fact that France are the only team in with a shout playing at home (Apologies to all Italians, I'm going to ignore Italy at this point) will be enough to see them through I think. The Scots know that they cannot be overtaken by the Welsh and also that they cannot overtake the Italians therefore they really don't have anything to play for other than pride and I just don't think that's going to be enough. However, I would absolutely love it if the Irish could win the Championship on St Patrick's Day. Not only do they deserve it for their performances in the past few years, the resulting party would eclipse any of those that marked the Millennium!
If the French do win, I back the IRish to win the WC. What a final it would be if the Irish could avenge the 6-nations home defeat by beating the French on their turf in the WC final! That would be some story...

  • 27.
  • At 02:05 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Simon P wrote:

Suprised there are so many Irish on the blogs. Good Wi-Fi at Cheltenham then - hee hee!

I think Ireland will win in Italy and hopefully by at least 15 points to put the pressure on France. But just wanted to say how pleased i am with all this press Italy's rugby has been getting there - good to see. Hopefully it will continue through the WC and they will look for a bigger venue next year.

  • 28.
  • At 02:06 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew Mellish wrote:

Post 15 - the thing that made me laugh was Scotland winning by such a huge margin, and not Italy winning the 6N. I can see the Scots giving the French a real battle but I think Ireland Italy will be so close they will still nick it, d***!

As an Englishman I think the real regret of the championship is not the try by Boss but Italy trying to be clever in the first match and not starting with their strongest XV! I understand the tactic but having your entire first choise front row on the bench, especially against the French pack, is not the wisest decision! Had the Italians of got that one right maybe the Irish would have the points advantage! (However, to put a dampner on this argument you could argue it was the second half against England that gave the Italians the confidence to go on!)

  • 29.
  • At 02:10 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

The 6 Nations Championship will be a nice present for the Irish on St. Paddy's day but I still think this seasons tournament has been a partial failure for them.

Lets face it, they have played relatively poorly in every game except the England game and missed out on the Grand Slam again.
They remind me of the England team prior to 2003, as they are clearly the best northern hemisphere team but have choked when it really matters.

Home advantage is a huge factor in these games (as the results have shown) so i think Wales will start as favourites against England.
I just hope Catt & Co can defy this and consign the boyo's to a deserved wooden spoon!
When will they learn that forwards win rugby matches?

  • 30.
  • At 02:11 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Col wrote:

Yes, the confidence of the Italians will be buoyed after two wins, but this could lead to complacency. With Ireland looking to improve on their performance after last week, I see the Irish winning.

If the Irish win by 15 or 20, then this will put the onus on France. This, coupled with the fact that the Scots will be on an all-out retaliation after last week, could lead to early mistakes by France in an effort to get points on the board early on. Scotland beat them last year remember.

The England Wales game will be great. The Welsh will be mental in an attempt to save face. Even though England won at the weekend, they really will have their work cut out for them in Cardiff.

It's gonna be a great weekend!

  • 31.
  • At 02:13 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • col wrote:

Yes, the confidence of the Italians will be buoyed after two wins, but this could lead to complacency. With Ireland looking to improve on their performance after last week, I see the Irish winning.

If the Irish win by 15 or 20, then this will put the onus on France. This, coupled with the fact that the Scots will be on an all-out retaliation after last week, could lead to early mistakes by France in an effort to get points on the board early on. Scotland beat them last year remember.

The England Wales game will be great. The Welsh will be mental in an attempt to save face. Even though England won at the weekend, they really will have their work cut out for them in Cardiff.

It's gonna be a great weekend!

  • 32.
  • At 02:14 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Col wrote:

Yes, the confidence of the Italians will be buoyed after two wins, but this could lead to complacency. With Ireland looking to improve on their performance after last week, I see the Irish winning.

If the Irish win by 15 or 20, then this will put the onus on France. This, coupled with the fact that the Scots will be on an all-out retaliation after last week, could lead to early mistakes by France in an effort to get points on the board early on. Scotland beat them last year remember.

The England Wales game will be great. The Welsh will be mental in an attempt to save face. Even though England won at the weekend, they really will have their work cut out for them in Cardiff.

It's gonna be a great weekend!

  • 33.
  • At 02:20 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Chris R wrote:

Home advantage is everything. The fact that France are the only team in with a shout playing at home (Apologies to all Italians, I'm going to ignore Italy at this point) will be enough to see them through I think. The Scots know that they cannot be overtaken by the Welsh and also that they cannot overtake the Italians therefore they really don't have anything to play for other than pride and I just don't think that's going to be enough. However, I would absolutely love it if the Irish could win the Championship on St Patrick's Day. Not only do they deserve it for their performances in the past few years, the resulting party would eclipse any of those that marked the Millennium!
If the French do win, I back the IRish to win the WC. What a final it would be if the Irish could avenge the 6-nations home defeat by beating the French on their turf in the WC final! That would be some story...

  • 34.
  • At 02:20 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Ireland Forever wrote:

Oh come on people, the Italians are going to be subjected to an Irish backlash. They have greatly improved but they had a lucky win against scotland who gifted them 21 points and a good win against a welsh team that frankly didn't turn up.
Ireland will win by a good margin leaving the French in a spin against our Scottish neighbours who have every chance of beating them when they're spinning.
England and Wales is much too tight to call, Wales in a corner with back firmly to the wall, not a prospect any team would like to face.

Ireland for the Championship, but not on points difference. Do us a favour Wales and Scotland, it's been 22 years since we were top, it's our turn.

  • 35.
  • At 02:26 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Chris Cooper wrote:

Good rugby pubs in Bath? To watch an Ireland game, it's gotta be Flan O' Briens. The atmosphere there WILL be awesome, I know I'll be there!

  • 36.
  • At 02:31 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Kevin Jarrett wrote:

The permutations for Saturday are endless! But to throw a spanner in the works - is it possibly time to start considering using the Tri-Nations / Super 14 points awards system for the 6N? With 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for a defeat by less than seven points and 1 bonus point for scoring four tries or more - the situation in the 6N log would currently be:

Ireland 14 Points
France 13 Points
England 12 Points
Italy 9 Points
Scotland 5 Points
Wales 1 Point

Then Ireland could go into Saturdays game and just win and score 4 tries in the process to guarantee the Championship without having to worry about what goes on in Paris later!!
This suits me this year - not sure it would always be so accommodating!

  • 37.
  • At 02:44 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

Jim, #23:

I saw an excerpt of the press conference, which dealt with the question to Eddie O'Sullivn regarding JW's fitness for the Irish game. To be honest, it showed simply that he wasn't taking the issue seriously, he fully believed JW would be playing, and more or less took it as mind games from the English camp. His point was that he in the same position wouldn't be overplaying his hand by braodcasting the matter to the press, if there genuinely was a concern for Ashton.

His demeanor was pretty bemused, and flashing a rare, wry smile, he looked far from a man that was "losing it".

Irish myself, I have been glued to most of the domestic press here surounding the 6 Nations, and incidents of criticism vented in the direction of EOS has been pretty few and far between.

The debate that has recieved much controversy but very little progress is the totally unexpected enigma at the end of the Scottish game, namely the "choking" incident. The last thing I want to do is flog a dead horse, and it looks as though it's unlikely we are to be any wiser on the event.

EOS did surprise a lot of Irish by coming out with his comments as soon as he did, and given his reputation over here he as "ever the professional", he was given the benefit of the doubt that there was indeed something to be concerned about. However I feel he may have slipped up (despite his duty to his players) in making his statements so early on. Now I feel (and I'm sure he does too) the his hands are tied having made accusations he knows he can't personally substantiate. Perhaps he thought something would come up on the video evidence.

No matter, I don't feel it is something that we should now dwell on. We need Scotland focused on the task of frustrating (who knows? Beating?) Italy, as opposed to refuting allegations and engaging with lawyers during this all-important week.

This has so far been the 6 Nations of the "Wounded Dog":

- Ireland beating England after their heartbreaking closing minutes against France
- England beating France following their humiliation at Croke Park
- Scotland putting Ireland to the wire following their upset against Italy

So how would that pattern follow on P-Day? Tough call... Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, they all have something to prove. The only ones that don't are Italy... But surely we have all learned the lesson now to write them off at your peril!

The points difference issue contain so many variables in an already unpredictable 6 Nations, I'm not even going to go there. No matter, in terms of pure entertainment factor, this will only add to the occasion.

I am like a giddy schoolgirl, I cannot wait for Saturday...

  • 38.
  • At 02:50 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • David wrote:

While France may have an advantage in knowing how many points they need to score to beat Ireland, Scotland will also have the advantage of knowing how many points to hold them to. They won't collapse if France go a few points ahead and will consider denying France the six nations a victory to a certain extent...

I reckon the scots have their dander up they are angry at the accusations from the Ireland camp and annoyed at loosing by such a small margin. The french seem to have given up and will be taking it for granted they are going to walk. The Irish will be annoyed they played with such mediocrity and this jekel and hide team are due a top performance again. Wales want to get it together. I see 3 tight matches... I will call it as it stands.... closer at the end of the day than now but as it stands.

  • 40.
  • At 03:10 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Owen Broadway wrote:

The Pulteney Arms is easily the premier rugby pub in Bath. A bit difficult to find and not huge but you can absolutely GUARANTEE it will be full of real rugby fans and cracking beer. Ill be there with my lass from Mayo so you'll have one ally!

  • 41.
  • At 03:12 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • corkonian wrote:

i will definitely be giving utaly alot of respect! beating scotland and wales back to back was fantastic when only a few years ago they were wooden spooners! ireland will have to play much better than against scotland and i think they will! hopefully no one will nearly die this time though lol.

  • 42.
  • At 03:14 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • corkonian wrote:

i will definitely be giving italy alot of respect! beating scotland and wales back to back was fantastic when only a few years ago they were wooden spooners! ireland will have to play much better than against scotland and i think they will! hopefully no one will nearly die this time though lol.

  • 43.
  • At 03:49 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Chuck wrote:

Kevin, that idea seems superb now you mention it!

I know people have been saying this is the way to go to make it more exciting, but in all honesty, I don't think it's fair.

England played 3 games at home this year, Ireland played 3 away. Lets say in 2009, on the basis of home advantage, England score 4+ tries in each of their home games - 15 points. Then lose by 2 to Ireland in an epic game which sees England score 4 tries but give away silly penalties including one in the last minute, and beat Wales in Cardiff but only score 3 tries.

Ireland, on the other hand, have tough games away to Italy, Scotland and Wales which they win but don't get a try bonus point despite their desparate attempts. They win the aforementioned 'epic' with England but only thanks to 3 converted tries and a glut of penalties. The game with France is again close but poor conditions limit the sides and a drop goal is the only thing separating the two teams.

So England - P5, W4, L1, TS19 BP5
Overall - 21
Ireland - P5, W5, L0, TS10, BP0
Overall - 20

So Ireland finish with a grand slam but no championship! I know attacking Rugby should be rewarded but these games away in Edinburgh, Rome and Cardiff saw Ireland at their (almost) sublime best but resillient defence and some dodgy refereeing decisions meant they couldn't get that all important 4th try!

I know the odds on that happening would be ludicrous but still, it could happen and there'd be uproar if such a scenario did occur!

But yes, this year would've been nice.

  • 44.
  • At 04:13 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • John Cooke wrote:

I think we will blow away a very good Italian side on Sat, because we have to.
Most Irish supporters I know, have supported Italy in this and most other 6-n's to-date, except when we are playing them of course.
It’s an affinity kind of thing. I have watched them grow in strength every year and was disappointed in their 1st two games this year.

I think Italy could have beaten England too, if they had believed they could. They did not, they gave England too much respect.
The owned the 2nd half against England and should have tried to play like that in the 1st half.
They learned greatly from that experience and look where they are at now because of it.

I expect Ireland to run at Italy from the off - we have only done that against England in this 6-N and look what happened then.
Believe - we can still win this NH Crown and it's off to the WC 2007 as European Champions where we will beat France in Paris and avoid the AB's in the quarters.
Our defeat to them in the 6-N, this time round - has ensured this for me. The French really believe they have us psyched now. Excellent! Bless ‘em.
A lot also depends on how the Scots react against the French. Put it this way, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If they stay within 15 points of the French at the end – it’s OURS, in my humble opinion.
Not so humble actually – I have not been out much in all matches so far (yes, I had Italy to beat Scotland and Wales).Won a "few bob" on that alone.
So here are Saturdays predictions from the Irish Jury.

Italy 12 – Ireland 36 (PD = 62)
Wales 21 – England 19 (N/A)
France 25 – Scotland 15 (PD = 52)

Have watched every minute of every match. Great stuff.
I love the unpredictability and magic of it all. Everything I said could and probably WILL - be turned upside-down.
Even so .. Come On Ireland !!!

Leinster man in the Netherlands.

  • 45.
  • At 04:17 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • irish bird wrote:

i'm going to the best pub in the world to watch the irish gane! my drinks cabinet at home! cheap and fun day guaranteed esp if ireland win the championship. irish fans everywhere will thank england for beating france and scotland (hmm) for trying not to gift france too many tries!

  • 46.
  • At 04:32 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Brennanonthemoor wrote:

I wonder if the outcome of the match in Stadio Flaminio will be affected by the fact that 17,000 of the 24,500 seats will be occupied by Irish supporters? Who knows, maybe the Irish fans can create a home atmosphere on the day? I can't wait to be there!

  • 47.
  • At 04:39 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • John Cooke wrote:

I think we will blow away a very good Italian side on Sat, because we have to.
Most Irish supporters I know, have supported Italy in this and most other 6-n's to-date, except when WE are playing them of course.
It’s an affinity kind of thing. I have watched them grow in strength every year and was disappointed in their 1st two games this year.

I think Italy could have beaten England too, if they had believed they could. They did not, they gave England too much respect.
The owned the 2nd half against England and should have tried to play like that in the 1st half.
They learned greatly from that experience and look where they are now because of it.

I expect Ireland to run at Italy from the off - we have only done that against England in this 6-N and look what happened then.
Believe - we can still win this NH Crown and it's off to the WC 2007 as European Champions where we WILL beat France in Paris.
Our defeat to them, this time round -has ensured this for me. The French really believe they have us psyched. Bless ‘em.
A lot also depends on how the Scots react against the French. Put it this way, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If they stay within 15 points of the French at the end – it’s OURS, in my humble opinion.
Not so humble actually – I have not been out by much in all matches so far (had every game except for Irl v Fra.) That said, here are the predictions from the Irish Jury.

Italy 12 – Ireland 36 (PD = 62)
Wales 21 – England 19 – (N/A)
France 25 – Scotland 15 (PD = 52)

Have watched every minute of every match. Great stuff.
I love the unpredictability and magic of it all. Everything I said could and probably WILL - be turned upside-down.
Even so .. Come On Ireland !!!

Leinster man in the Netherlands.

  • 48.
  • At 04:54 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Rugby pubs in Bath, that'll be like trying to find a Guinness pub in Dublin.

Bath Rugby are in Leicester as well so the non-travelling support will all be out too - enjoy.

  • 49.
  • At 05:09 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • geoff wrote:

A lot of ppl are of the opinion that France have the advantage of knowing the size of their task as they play last; this is perhaps true, but it is dependent on the outcome of the Irish Italian game. If Ireland put 44 points, nay 34, past Italy, are the French really in the driving seat, trying to force the game against a Scottish side who are rather adept at playing a spoiling, slowing, holding game?? Indeed they aren't. They will need to force the game, and then it could either work, or they could conceivably lose the match itself. My money's on Ireland....happy Paddys day ;)

  • 50.
  • At 05:46 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

France will beat Scotland by about 20 points, I support two teams, England and anyone playing France, but I think they will be too good for out kilt wearing neighbours

Ireland will beat Italy by about 20 points. Italy could do it, but only if they get the tactics bang on!

England will beat Wales by about 1 point. Never discount the welsh, they are never far away from hitting the sweet spot! Unfortunately that could happen to us, but we shall see

France, unfortunately will win on PD.
England will be third

For the record, I am off to the in-laws this weekend, oh no I hear you say,

Not this time, hand young kids to Nanny, find comfortable position on sofa, open first guiness of about 12 and enjoy a whole days watching first class rugby, drink beer, and agruing with my father-in-law about rugby. he watches football, nuff said

Finally, cueto for lewsey, I like Cueto, but that is not a good move!

  • 51.
  • At 05:48 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Fair Play Graham #37

I didn't actually hear EOS comments, the Iain Robertson spin suggested that he turned the air blue.

I will stand corrected.

  • 52.
  • At 06:26 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Will Beeny wrote:

There are two points about England's game they I wanted to bring to light that have not been mention at all and I noticed during the game.

1) The position our players are in during contact.

I have seen many forwards going in head first and backs standing up straight. For the forwards sometimes at close contact is ok as it can help you break the game like and inch forward hit by hit, but our backs are being tackled back and losing ground. What I would like to see is something that is drilled at school level but we tend to forget as we grow older. STEP INTO THE HIT - because that carries your momentum better and gives you a better chance against the tackler. Watch Easter, he does it ocassionally and does it well. Tim Rodber Style!

2) when attacking at pace, the French centers always hit the inside shoulder of their marker, England fail to do so and thus do not break the defence line as well ro as much as the French.

No, I don't expect everytime to go through but when running at an angle towards your opossition tackler, if you aim at the outside shoulder and step into the inside shoulder changing your angle, it is very hard for someone runnign sideways to tackle you.

Watch the game and look at how the French run. They did not win, but they still have some things to show us. Now we have young backs with a lot of pace and with the cheekyness to run at the opposition. We must learn from this before the World Cup as the Southern Hemisphere backs run hard, fast and they are merciless.

  • 53.
  • At 06:58 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • katie wrote:

Bring on the Weekend!!!!

What a fantastic end to a Championship! Will be sat in pub from 1 o clock till its all over!

  • 54.
  • At 08:16 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • eugene wrote:

I think the Irish could lose in Italy but will not - they have an experienced outfit which win more tight games than they lose.
France will trounce the Scots who do not perform away from home.

I desperately want to see Wales win and hope that with 80.000 fans behind them that they will. They need of course possession and the rub of the green which they have not had all season. I note many comments here stating that the Welsh are a good side, which I agree with of course - however, a losing streak like this must cause serious dents in the teams confidence. Lets hope for a dry day and a loose game and lots of tries. C´mon Wales!!

  • 55.
  • At 10:29 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

#34.
Was the Ireland try against Scotland not a tad lucky?
That was the difference in the end wasn't it ?
Write Italy off at your peril. Arrogance used to be reserved(supposedly) for English Rugby only. Maybe this isn't arrogance though, just stupidity?

  • 56.
  • At 10:54 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • carey wrote:

Does anyone have any ideas on how the WRU can be encouraged to jettison the bopah Jenkins and re-install as coach the only bloke who seems to know how to engender the winning habit? A certian mr Ruddock. By all accounts the new WRU group CEO is pretty ruthless(ask Mr slippery S Lewis).

Go on Roger, show us what your're made of.

  • 57.
  • At 10:59 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • carey wrote:

Does anyone have any ideas on how the WRU can be encouraged to jettison the bopah Jenkins and re-install as coach the only bloke who seems to know how to engender the winning habit? A certian mr Ruddock. By all accounts the new WRU group CEO is pretty ruthless(ask Mr slippery S Lewis).

Go on Roger, show us what your're made of.

  • 58.
  • At 11:23 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • ulsteral wrote:

Some fascinating posts - marvellous reading, especially as nearly all of them are devoid of the bitter and childish comments which we sometimes get. It's as it should be - I was in Edinburgh on Sat, and it was wonderful to see pubs half blue and half green.

I think EOS has worked wonders for Ireland - but perhaps a little premature with his choking accusation.

Don't really want to raise the Welsh
penalty issue again, but have to say I watched the match, and actually felt very sympathetic towards the Welsh. However, having read the posts and had time for reflection, not so sure.

Thought back to end of Ireland v England when Ireland got a penalty on halfway and Wallace kicked into touch to end the match - no thought of a lineout for Ireland then. Why on earth did he do that - surely that is only done by a team only 2 or 3 points ahead. England were a mess after the Boss try, and if Ireland had run it, could perhaps have scored another try - which could make all the difference when it comes to points difference on Saturday. How galling that would be.

don't think it really matters who plays first. If Ireland win well, and i think they will - they won't be as flat as they were against a very reasonable Scottish team - the pressure will really be on the French if they have to win by, say 20 points. This will be made more difficult as Scotland will be hurting after their last two home matches, and a few penalties from Patterson would mean they will have to score over 30 points. France can easily go to pieces when things are not going right for them.

Ireland to win by 20, France by 15, and Ireland to be champions on St Pat's Day by 1 point!

  • 59.
  • At 11:25 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • handy-legend wrote:

Why are so many Irish fans overly confident that they will win on saturday? Write the Italians off at your peril!They are at home and have a bigger and better pack than ireland! Ireland have good backs, but the Italian front row are monsters! France would have to be blind folded against Scotland for them to loose. England should beat Wales by 10points I reckon.

So it could be
France
England
Ireland
Italy
Scotland
Wales
Who knows? This years' tournament has been full of surprises!

  • 60.
  • At 12:24 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Too Far Gone wrote:

There is a strong rumor that the polizia in Rome will be ready Saturday to storm the vatican if there is any trouble from the Irish priests. Go Green!

  • 61.
  • At 03:38 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Rick wrote:

I'm actually quite worried that the Ireland game is on StPaddys! There will be so much pressure on the squad to perform a 20point margin game that it could backfire. I think Eddie O'S is right saying he hopes to just win the game, I'm of the same mentality.

Kick for points!!!!!!!!!

  • 62.
  • At 04:39 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • paul moore wrote:

It's All quite obvious
Ireland win in rome and win the 6n.It doesn't matter by how much because Scotland will beat France And England and Wales is a tossup.

  • 63.
  • At 09:05 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • andy1972 wrote:

I wrote something about Italy' s Six nations after England-Italy and I am happy to notice that I was right. last time i wrote that a big difference among Italy and the top teams is that they concretize everything ( England won with penalty kicks). well in the other 2 matches Italy learned English and French Lessons very well so we did a good job in Murryfield and Flaminio Stadium. In those 2 victoties we can notice coach berbizier's job ( italy play rugby in the french way, because uor physical is less than briths and Irish teams).
Now we hope to teach an Italian lesson to the Irish, however it is a very special 6 NAtions for us this year.
Bye and the best win.

Andy1972 - Italy

  • 64.
  • At 09:23 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Jacob wrote:

When Ireland walk all over England the analysis is quite clear; that Ireland were simply the better team by a long mark.

Yet when England achieve the seemingly impossible and become the only team (so far) to stand in the way of a French Grand Slam, it's because France didn't turn up!

In that case, perhaps Ireland only won because England didn't turn up?

In truth England were made to look very ordinary because the Irish forwards completely outplayed their English counterparts. When the pack isn't commanding the set-piece and the breakdown, there's very little the backs can do.

In the England v France game, the English pack played a blinder giving the backs the platform they need to make runs and score tries.

Credit where credit's due. Yes, this England team has a lot of room for improvement and yes, the French team looked a shadow of its former self, but perhaps...just perhaps, it was the English team that made them look that way.

  • 65.
  • At 09:33 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

If you're still looking for a good pub in Bath - try The Ram @ Widcombe or the Pulteney Arms - the Pig & Whistle if you want to stay central - Cheers!

  • 66.
  • At 09:34 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • irish bird wrote:

not going to disrespect the italains. we've got quite a game on our hands! however the probabbility is that ireland should win and comfortably enough! france should beat scotland but hopefully not by much! scotland definitely have the ability to prevent the french from scoring too much aside from penalties- that's the danger! england will beat wales but not by too much altho let strettle and geraghty loose ands who knows what could happen. also finally tait gets the chance! he's fantastic and is severly underrated. he's much better than tindall.

  • 67.
  • At 09:48 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Little Luca wrote:

As an Italian devoted supporter, I know it is never going to happen, I repeat to myself that the chances of actually winning the Championship are so negligible to be practically zero. No one in Italy would bet a euro on that.

But... after seven years of brave displays and countless defeats, do you know how it feels like to be theoretically able to win the Tournament? Kind of exhilarating. I'd say it sounds almost blasphemous.

Last note, Jim. Sorry for being pedantic, but Italy joined the competition in 2000, not 2001: yes, it is 5 win and 1 draw in eight years, not seven, until now...

  • 68.
  • At 10:24 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • sorcha wrote:

jacob no 64 as an irish supporete i have and many other irish have eqviocally stated that england were absolutely fantastic against the french for the most part! ya it annoyed me when ppl said england were bad v ireland as opposed to ireland being much stronger, and so i think it is doing the englsih a disservice to say the same thing about france! the frech were attacked from the go by the english. while they threatened with their penalty taking they never looked in danger of getting a try and that is due to the excellent defensive work by the englsih. have to say i wouldnt swap rog for anyone but i am quite jealous of england having flood, geraghty, strettle and wilkinson! also reckon strettle is better than shane horgan!

  • 69.
  • At 10:29 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Honest Tim wrote:

Italy will beat Ireland, Thereby freeing the Irish from watching the rest of the games, and they can all go out and get drunk, and tell each other they will win the WC.

  • 70.
  • At 10:41 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • alex wrote:



SATURDAY FEBRUARY 4th 2006

IRELAND 26 vs 16 ITALY
LANSDOWNE ROAD, DUBLIN

not sure about Ireland 20+ points
margin against Italy on Saturday
especially after the way Ireland
played against Scotaland....



  • 71.
  • At 10:54 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • DennisL wrote:


Scotland can hold France you know. I think that they really are getting quite cynical in the ruck, which is good for them, because every else is.
Personally I think that the reason that the game was so close between them and Ireland last week was because of poor ref'ing. There was absolutely no control over the break-down, for etiher side. Scotland took far better advantage fo that.

As for this weekend. Ireland should go out with a victory in mind FIRST and FOREMOST. They should absorb as much of Italy as they can, before pouncing. Throw on some fresh legs at half time, and begin mauling to set up the back line. I don't want them to go out with "20 points" in mind. I want them to go out with a strategy, with a plan.

  • 72.
  • At 11:15 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I don't think that its such a bad thing having the French know what they need to beat Ireland and England in the race for the title. Think about it - they will be under so much pressure thinking of getting the scoreline they need, that they could lose concentration and slip up and thats when the Scots always strike.
On the other hand, Scotland coach Hadden is contemplating putting out his benchers this week in preperation for the World Cup which isn't so good for Ireland!

  • 73.
  • At 11:58 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Wee man wrote:

Ireland by at least 25 points, let's get real. Ireland will turn it on this sat, Paddy's Day and the c'ship in sight, France will have to work the hardest this weekend, cos the pressure will really be on when they have to make up the margin of points against the scots. England and Wales is a lose/lose situation anyway. One for the wooden spoon and the other for mid to lower table. Wales should win though. Hopefully! Ireland for the championship, they must be close to favourites again.

  • 74.
  • At 12:10 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • sam probert wrote:

Iv been supporting the italy team and my nation for the last three years, and this year it happened. Finally after many close encounters, we managed to pull off not only one, but two great victories. The win against scotland was what was needed, and anything more than that is a big bonus (i.e wales!)

Im aware for some they are probably thinking,'big deal theyve won a match after 5 blinking years!, but for a nation whos praised sport is solemnly football, theyve shown that there is more to soccer in Italy. Hopefully we'll keep winning more and more games, but most of all, increase the number of rugby players and sincereity of this beautiful sport in Italy.

Forza ragazzi!

  • 75.
  • At 12:36 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • corkonian wrote:

honest tim you are one of the most ignorant twats ever to grace these blogs!and dont call yourself honest, it's just plain ignorance. ayou're such an attention seeker. i love the way when irish fans start believing in their team, it's begrudged by people like you. are you english? because if you are, you should realise that people have taken the piss out of england's continuous bleating in any sport (soccer, cricket etc) that they would win the world cup! now they did in rugby but english rugby fans are decent and didnt rub it in! it's a bit rich of you to mock the irish self belief!

  • 76.
  • At 12:52 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Azzurri wrote:

It will be a dream for Italy to beat Ireland, but realistically the chances are almost nil, unless we can get the Irish players for lots of early drinks to celebrate St Paddys Day.

  • 77.
  • At 01:14 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • david wrote:

I think Ireland will see their preformance against scotland as the same
way england seen their preformance against Ireland. They will bounce back the same way as england did.

Ireland by 10-15(hopefully 15),
England by 5-10,
France by 10-15,(hopefully 10).

Im sorry but suggesting Scotland took 'far better' advantage of poor refereeing at the breakdown is a Joke. Scotland conceded more penalties at the breakdown, and lost out to a very experienced and talented irish backrow.

In every game I have watched Scotland one of our biggest problems is a lack of aggression at rucks and mauls, and an inability to create quick ball for the backs.

The most 'cynical' team on Saturday was Ireland. That aint a critisim, its what all good backrows should do. They constatntly infringed on Saturday, slowed the ball and prevented Scotland getting space, which to be honest even if we get, with the exception of the Lamont brothers, look incapable of exploiting.

Ireland are a very good team but if they have a weaknesss its their front five. Paul O'Connel at his best is immense, but with England game aside, has not had a great 6 nations by his standards.

I think their backs get them out of jail on numerous occasions. O'Driscoll and D'arcy are as effectice as backrow forwards at the breakdown but against better teams than Scotland the front fives limitations could be exposed.

I would love to see Ireland win the world cup (Id like to see Scotland just qualify!) but areas like the scrum need to be addressed now, so their excellent backs get a chance to shine.

  • 79.
  • At 01:36 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Phil Vat wrote:

Ireland undoubtably have the class to give the Italian's a hiding on Saturday, and good luck to them!

I think that this year's Rugby World Cup will be a chance for a fairly mature team to set the benchmark for future Irish teams to build on and become one of the big rugby nations.

However, I am not convinced that they have invested as much into the younger talent, in terms of international match time or regional set up, to ensure that they will be able to step up to the mark when the old heads retire (probably after the RWC) and there is a danger they will become as hopeless as England have been in the last 4 years.

I hope I am wrong as I am a Welsh father to a 5 month old half-Irish little bruiser who may be able to choose at least one world class team to play for if he's good enough in twenty years time!

  • 80.
  • At 01:37 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • handy-legend wrote:

Everyone is going bananas about who may win it- who really cares, when the grand slam is not on and there are summer tours and World Cup matches ahead! My point is the best is still to come! Sorry Ireland, France all the way.


Ireland will beat Italy on saturday but will it be by enough? Scotland to do us a favour in France......I don`t hold out much hope!
Brian Carney to switch from league to union- another great back to add to our collection. Ireland will be gettiing stronger and stronger coming up to the WC.
PS Jonny Wilkinson no longer worthy since Flood and Geraghty arrive on the seen. England are suddenly worldbeaters. You have to laugh really! I said that France were not unbeatable, et voila.

  • 82.
  • At 01:50 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • James Grant wrote:

The pub you want is Flan O'Briens
Westgate St, Bath. Unfortunately we're off to Wales for the weekend so won't see you but enjoy the day!

  • 83.
  • At 01:54 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • crumlinbob wrote:

The beauty of the Six Nations is the unpredictable nature of it. Goin on form you would probably pick wins for Ireland, France and England but wouldnt it be marvellous if the opposite happened with Italy, Scotland and Wales taking the points. This super Saturday is a great idea, loads a rugby. Just hope when the final whistle blows at the Millenium Stadium that Ireland will be crowned champions. Its been a while.

  • 84.
  • At 02:00 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Andy Scott wrote:

With all the possible permutations it is undoubtedly a mouth watering day of rugby coming up. I am personally gutted as I am an irish man and I am working until 3:30pm (ah cruel fate!).
A couple of people have mentioned the danger of the wounded animal eg. England after their defeat to ireland etc. But NO-ONE seems to be extending this to France after their loss to England. Their management and players are livid that they gave such a poor performance on Sunday and I believe they will be the ones who will be seriously dangerous AND with something to prove. They're gonna most likely give the Scots a semi thrashing so it#ll still go close all the way! Bring it on after I finish work at any rate.

  • 85.
  • At 03:35 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • sorcha wrote:

not to sound like a whinger but why are ireland being called chokers? ireland england and france have only lost one game each. to be honest i'd rather be losing to teams like france than scotland. england lost to ireland and france to england. therfore all the good teams lost to each other. yes i would consider england a good team. therfore it doesn't make sense to call ireland chokers. i would have criticisms of my team like any fan would but chokers wouldnt be one of them. and for the scottish to call us chokers, well that's just comical!

  • 86.
  • At 04:50 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • SteveH wrote:

if this is to be the 6n of the wounded beast, then France should be favourites to claim the title.

I am however, hoping against hope Italy try to expand their somewhat limited forward orientated game and try to play open rugby that might play in to the Irish hands.

However, this is unlikely to happen and the one thing that has got me worried is Mick O'Driscoll coming into the pack instead fo POC. O'D is fantastic out of touch, but apart from that he is fairly limited. Seeing him being dumped on his backside by Xavier Rush when Munster lost to Cardiff in the Mag League hasn't allied my fears either. I would have gone for Trevor Hogan as he puts it about the park more. EOS certainly didn't go with form there.

But Ireland to win by 1-10 points, and here's praying Scotland do us a favour by beating or keeping the score right down.

As Wales/England, it'll be very close, but with Tait in at 13, and a back three of Robbo, Stretts and Cueto you'd have to fancy England by 5-10.

Happy Paddy's day everyone... I'm so excited I might burst... either that or get a few cheeky Guinness in tonight!!!!

  • 87.
  • At 05:17 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Gator wrote:

Tim, Tim, Tim,

you are obviously sad and bitter...I am sorry that you have such a pathological dislike of the irish that you feel the need to insult us and dash our hopes with your obviously superior wisdom and understanding of world rugby.

I think you have a deep misunderstanding of the irish, we are a nation of dreamers...who else would have thought that our little country could defeat the might of the British Empire and win our independence.

So, yes, we are dreaming about a WC final appearance. however, I am sure that many of my countrymen are also fully aware of the challenge we face just to get out of our pool...unlike England, who characteristically get a soft option based on their performances of 4 years ago...not today...and I will acknowledge some sour grapes on my part about the seeding system.

That being said we will celebrate if we defy all the odds and actually win the thing. if we don't we will commiserate with each other, down a few pints and get on with our lives...something that you apparently cannot seem to do.

  • 88.
  • At 09:28 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • David wrote:

I went to England-France and England played well.
I don't think that England really have a chance of the championship but the six nations this year has been full of suprises so I don't know.
If England had lost to Ireland by less than 30 points it would all be a different story.
I think Ireland have a disadvantage playing first as i think it is always better to chases a reasonable score.
Everyone has been writing off England against Wales and think they will lose!!!
The English backs especially Strettle, Robinson and flood are on top form.
The English forewards will dominate the Welsh if they play like they did against France.
Tindall has been playing well and tackling and attaking well but he has done some very weak tackles which people have just broken through.
Whoever said Wilkinson shouldn't play is mad.
He is kicking so well now, think about floods and geraties kicks to touch, they were poor.
They did play extremely well on Saturday but they just arnt as good as Wilkinson.
This is my predictions for Saturday:
England 26 12 Wales
Ireland 38 20 Italy
France 34 9 Scotland
I do think France will win this year unfortunatly
France
Ireland
England
Italy
Scotland
Wales

  • 89.
  • At 12:15 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • Liam wrote:

Surely it is not arrogant to say if ireland play to their full potential they can make it very difficult for France. That is not saying that Italy are poor at all. Everyone recognises that Italy can push any team in the 6N. And if Ireland don't sort out their discipline and concentation italy will win. But man for man Ireland are way better than Italy then again I thought they were man for man better than the French....

  • 90.
  • At 12:53 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • ROG wrote:

Honest Tim, well in Cork they would call you a Langer.

Either Tim is a fat old couch potato with little or nothing to do but fester in his own sad existence, try wind people up and dwell on the past when he maybe had a life or else he is a young boy who hasn't discovered girls or masterbation and is likely never to. Actually I would say he is a mixture of all the above. A very sad individual is honest but dim tim!!

I think it best everybody on the BBC blog ignore this very sad individual from now on. He is very much an empty vessel making a lot of noise We are wasting too much time on the petulant idiot already. Oh and Tim, not nice being in the 'second' division is it? Oh how the mighty have fallen. GET OVER IT!!!

  • 91.
  • At 01:20 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • PhilDog wrote:

So far we have had a very close series of matches this season. The only one-sided games were Italy-France, England-Scotland and Ireland-England. (I am ignoring the first 7 minutes of Scotland-Italy).

Every other match could have gone either way. To put it in persepective that was always the tradition of 5N matches. It never mattered who was better (Ireland and France have the best starting XVs), it was always a case of which team wanted it on the day, who got the bounce of the ball, who got the benefit of referees' poor decisions? That is what we have had this season, where the weaker sides have generally performed very well against the stronger teams and pushed them to the wire.

Let us not whinge about these things, they are part of rugby life. We have had an exciting championship because matches have been close. The skills displayed is another question.

So on Saturday, let us expect Ireland huff and puff to beat Italy by 5-10. France to struggle against Scotland until scoring 2 tries in the last 10 minutes, winning by 15. Then to top it off, Wales will beat England in a thrill a minute match (I think this could be the best of the Championship as both sets of backs will throw it about) by four tries to three.

Will I be right? Who cares, let all fans accept the bounce of the ball and have a great Super Saturday.

Never mind that balanced nonsense - C'mon Ireland!

  • 92.
  • At 01:38 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • ulsteral wrote:

Well said Gator (#87) and ROG (#90). 'Honest' Tim but Dim is really someone we could do without here - he brings a bitterness and stupidity to this BLOG which is quite unique.

Sorry Tim but Dim, but I think Ireland will produce a display to rival that against England (remember that match Tim, or have you conveniently forgotten it?), and set the French a pretty stiff target. I'm not going to say that they mightn't get it, but Scotland are no pushover, as I saw in Edinburgh last Saturday - and once things are not going their way, the French tend to go to pieces.

So as Gator says, the dream is alive -and I'd rather be a dreamer than a miserable, bitter and twisted individual like Tim but Dim.

  • 93.
  • At 01:59 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • emerald star wrote:

well said phil dog aside from what you said about the irish huffing and puffing ha ha!

  • 94.
  • At 02:42 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • paolino wrote:

For Italy :
no Lo Cicero - no Canale - no Bergamasco banned 4 weeks for non intentional foul.
We'll never win but please Irland must win the championship.

FORZA IRLANDA !!!!

  • 95.
  • At 03:27 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • emerald star wrote:

paolino cheers for wanting ireland to win the championship. here's to a good game in rome! disappointing that bergamasco is out as he's a class player!

  • 96.
  • At 03:40 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • katie wrote:

A pleasure to read comments of such a balanced nature(except tim nice? but dim).

Its gonna be a fantastic day and a fantastic end to a full of surprises 6Ns.

Here is hoping that this irish dreamer will have her dreams come true!

  • 97.
  • At 04:55 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • Beef wrote:

Why do people satisfy Honest Tim with a response to his xenophobic rants? Going forward he should just be ignored as the soccer lout he obviously is and enjoy the 90% majority of bloggers that actually have something constructive to say about rugby.

  • 98.
  • At 05:31 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • B.A wrote:

it is absolutely impossible to tell what will happen this weekend.itely are a hugely organised side (WALES TAKE NOTE)but if ireland show who is the best team in the northern hemisphere and hit them like a green storm we can shake them up and may put them into disarray.france will heve beengivena lot of structure with the return of mignoni-worst decision made by laporte in years to drop him. whereas in ireland peter stringer is criticised for not taking a lot responsibility on himself dmitri yackvilli is a player who takes a lot more on himself than his ability allows and this wrecks the organisation of the team which with skrela and mignoni are a great rugby team.scotland are not the most creative and they shouldnt try to be (EG ITALY). there strength lies in their fantastic organisation and their ability to make the other side make mistakes (eg ireland) and to the final game of the six nations where two teams are playing and only one with anything to lose and thats wales.this will effectively blow up in there face because they are a team still believing in that terrible grand slam two years.so what will it be. well first two games are about organisation and impossible to call which way they go.final match is just a finale.a mere side show to either france or ireland's celebrations where england will win because of that old head catt in midfield.i myself i hope ireland win but i cant be hopeful and i cant be pessimistic but i must be objective. ireland need to start like they are ripping the hearts out of the all blacks themselves and scotland must stick to what they do best-SPOIL and spoil scotland cause we'd do it for you on Andrew's day.

  • 99.
  • At 07:37 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • Ed2003 wrote:

As some people have already said, the fact that Ireland play first could work out in their favour.

If they can put 20 points on Italy then the notoriously hard to please French crowd will pile on the pressure in Paris. Although I hope not.

This championship has been so unpredictable that I'm not even going to offer predictions.

In the event that England don't win the championship (which I think is just too much of an ask): Allez Les Bleus!

  • 100.
  • At 08:42 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • emerald star! wrote:

ba 98 are you brian ashton by any chance?? lol.

  • 101.
  • At 02:50 AM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • liam meighan wrote:

I was going to say hello to Honest Tim,(as there is another Tim out there)and say that your comments always bring a smile to my face.
Yes,who knows what will happen on Saturday, maybe Italy will hammer Ireland, and maybe Wales will score a record win over England, who knows and who cares? It is only a bit of sport after all, or is it really more important than that?

  • 102.
  • At 10:11 AM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • Dublin Scot wrote:

It pains me to say this as I am an admirer of Irish rugby in general and have enjoyed the highs and lows of the last 6 years but...
following Eddie O' Sullivans failure to retract his accusation against the Scots Team I hope Italy stuff Ireland.
I hope France beat Scotland by 30 points and O'Sullivan gets his comeuppence. There now I feel better for that!!

  • 103.
  • At 10:37 AM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • David wrote:

quoting #92

"Sorry Tim but Dim, but I think Ireland will produce a display to rival that against England (remember that match Tim, or have you conveniently forgotten it?)"

Dont forget the three previous years matches either.

  • 104.
  • At 04:11 PM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • ireland all the way wrote:

dublin scot why so angry? all well and good to go for italy against ireland that's fair enough but to support them only because of eos and the rog incident is silly. why so annoyed? the whole thing is over now and finished. I'm only going for the scots because of the championship. if i said i'd never go for the scots because of their failure to come forward about the rog incident then the scots would be annoyed. for gods sake. get on with your life instead of focussing on an issue that no one really cares about anymore.

  • 105.
  • At 06:04 PM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • james charles compton wrote:

Whoever wins this years 6N good on them. There would be no doubt about it if only Ireland had kept their heads against the oh la la's! 1948 for Gods sake! I am genuinely sorry that O'Driscolls side will always be compared unfavourably with Jack Kyle's because they havent slammed. To be honest the present Irish team is the best I have ever seen, but at some point they have to bring home the Slam. I would settle for the World Cup mind you!!

  • 106.
  • At 01:48 PM on 17 Mar 2007,
  • kjfrazer wrote:

I think Ireland will be lucky to win it...

  • 107.
  • At 05:23 PM on 17 Mar 2007,
  • Catherine wrote:

a win not deserved by France, Ireland are the real winners of this tournement, a biased ref and last minute footage dashed irelands six nations dreams. we all sat screaming at the television screen during the scotland-france match and things went from bad to worse as the referee sends off the wrong player, an error that sums up his reffing skills for this match. Ireland all the way.

  • 108.
  • At 01:58 PM on 18 Mar 2007,
  • Derek wrote:

Did the ref - Joubert - actually see the overtime try by Vermeulen?

Or did he just 'believe' it had to be a try? And what do the laws say about this?

My understanding is that if there is doubt and no direct evidence of a try, then a try is not awarded,

Quote from the bbc site:
"1711: France twist over the line and it is going to the TMO - who is Irish! Referee Craig Joubert believes a try has been scored and has asked for any reason why he cannot award the try. Will the Irishman come up with something?"

Note the word 'believes', and note the phrasing of the question to the TMO.

As, despite advice, this ref found it impossible to distinguish which Scottish player to sin-bin I'm not entirely satisfied that he can award a try just because he 'believes' it must have happened.

  • 109.
  • At 02:22 PM on 18 Mar 2007,
  • collie21 wrote:

WEll you can't get closer really. Well done to the French for taking their chances. hard luck Irealand. a bit of greed perhaps at the end? 5 points difference is no shame to loose a championship by, it's a score. As for the English who called us chokers.. ........43/13. It's all I will ever say to the English when the criticise Irish Rugby.... Now a serious note, this team has a problem. How many matches have the conceeded last second scores....

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them. Please note that submitting a comment is not the same as making a formal complaint - see this page for more details.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
    

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites